Digital Product Manager

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Effective product management is driven by a customer-centric mindset. The customer is placed at the center of every decision.

Supported by tools and techniques such as design thinking, this mindset focuses the entire organization on creating desirable, viable, feasible, and sustainable solutions.

Good product managers balance customer needs, adequate technologies, product delivery, and governance or legal constraints.

They shall master project management approaches, financing mechanisms and collaborator nurturing.


The primary responsibilities of product management often fall into the following areas.

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Meet Business Objectives

Products and solutions must meet the economic business goals established by the organization. You should:

  • Develop a clear model of how the solution provides value to customers.

  • Understand the cost structure and in-license models of all components and suppliers.

  • Create any necessary pricing or revenue-generating elements and out-licensing models.

  • Develop customer-centric ROI models that align with the value provided.

  • Identify financing models to create and maintain the product line. Often you shall acquire and retain the team in charge. Their expertise lowers the cost of the development and support of your product.

Assume you need formal training in marketing, sales, finances, accounting and controlling. This is typically achieved with an executive master education during your career.

Hire and retain qualified collaborators

Great products are always developed with the help of great teams. You should:

  • Acquire and retain professional collaborators.

  • Nurture agile teams with the right set of capabilities.

  • Develop true partnerships with other companies.

Interestingly, product managers often neglect this responsibility. They are fully aware of logistics and production issues. Seldom do they put similar effort in the development teams in charge of their products.

Get the Product Built and Meet the Market

Product managers collaborate with agile functional teams to build the required functionality.

Understand customer needs

As the representative of the customer, product management leverages market research and continuous exploration to continually understand your customer and market needs. Design thinking tools, ranging from personas, empathy maps, journey maps, and story maps are used to communicate these to the development teams.

Ensure product completeness

Product management is responsible for ensuring the product is considered whole and complete from a defined customer’s perspective. Products that serve multiple market segments may have different considerations of whole and complete and of minimum viable products.

Develop and communicate the program vision and roadmap

Product management continuously develops and communicates the vision to the agile teams, while defining the features of the system. Collaborating with system architects and engineering experts, they also define and maintain the non-functional requirements NFRs to ensure that the solution meets relevant standards and other system quality requirements. They are responsible for the roadmap, which illustrates how features are intended to be implemented over time.

Manage and prioritize the flow of work

Product management supports the flow of work through the program Kanban and into the program backlog, responsible for ensuring enough features are ready in the backlog at all times. Because judicious selection and sequencing of features are a key economic driver for each value stream, the backlog is regularly prioritized.

Participate in release and sprint planning

Product Management presents the vision, which highlights the proposed features of the solution, along with any relevant upcoming milestones. They also participate in sprint planning and are responsible for approving objectives and establishing business value.

Define releases and program increments

Owning the what means that product management is primarily responsible for release definition as well, including new features, architecture, and allocations for technical debt. This is accomplished through a series of releases, whose definition and business objectives are also determined by product management.

Work with System Architect/Engineering to understand Enabler work

While Product Management is not expected to drive technological decisions, they are expected to understand the scope of upcoming enabler work. They collaborate with System and Solution Engineering to jointly sequence the releases that will host new business functionality.

Participate in reviews and Inspect and Adapt (I&A)

Product management is an active participant in biweekly demonstrations and reviews. They also participate in assessing metrics, including the evaluation of business value achieved versus planned, and are active participants in the Inspect and Adapt workshop.

Digital products are now almost exclusively created with agile approaches. The Scrum framework is the most popular variant over the world. A product manager shall be proficient with agile techniques and hold some certification.

Scrum Alliance, and PMI DAD have extensive agile training and certification offerings.

Amplify Learnings

Product managers ensure their offerings are supported and enhanced to create a continuous flow of value in the organization.

Collaborating with customer experience and support

While customer-centric enterprises seek to create positive customer experiences, the implementation of customer experience and product support practices varies considerably based on the product. A B2C offering may only provide email support, while a B2B offering may provide a wide range of dedicated support options.
Product management is responsible for working with customer experience and support professionals to design the right offerings. Once designed, product management is responsible for helping customer experience and support manage these offerings, including creating features designed to improve support functions.

Manage supported versions

Customers of complex solutions have a right to know how long they will be supported once deployed in production. Therefore, product management is responsible for defining support policies, including End-of-Life EOL.

Manage legal and compliance

Product management is responsible for working with legal and compliance professionals to ensure the product meets all necessary requirements. Corporate governance is mandatory in professional organizations.


  • You need to understand business techniques and financial language to fund your product development.

  • You need to understand agile HR to nurture your collaborators.

  • You should be savvy with product development processes and project-controlling tools to deliver on time and on budget.

  • You need to chop your target markets to identify your customers and products. Beware of the challenges of internal customers, business to business B2B, business to professional B2P, business to consumer B2C, and business to government B2G.

  • You need to deeply understand technologies to Manage your technology stack. Successful companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook have senior top executives with deep knowledge and practical experience with software technologies.


You are responsible for the successful development of products. You shall possess a set of capabilities related to this role.

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  • Product portfolio responsibility toward customers and organization

    • Product portfolio and life-cycle management.

    • Roadmap, release plan, and requirement analysis.

    • Technical and user support is a must for satisfied customers. The legal aspects of security, accessibility, data privacy and user protection are now a central success factor for any digital product. Internationalization and localization are regular aspects of an application.

  • Line manager responsibility toward collaborators

  • Department financial responsibility toward organization

  • Technical responsibility

    • Technology stack selection to optimize development and training costs. Strategical aspects must be considered to optimize long-term revenues and minimize risks.

    • Provide interoperability to public interfaces. In the health sector, it could be the Health Level 7 HL7 set of standards. Each government defines her API to provide mandatory information for social security, value-added tax reporting, cyberattacks alarming, or statistics.

    • Avoid technology obsolescence and define cost-effective migration paths.

    • Motivate collaborators and be an attractive company for professional engineers.

Continuous Training

Training on the job is certainly a good approach to learning some required skills. Be honest. You still need formal continuous training to master the whole set of capabilities. The landscape of potential formal training is heterogeneous.

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Product management and marketing are one area of specialization

The offerings are mature and well-structured. Beware that modern product and project management approaches based on agile principles are often missing in the offering.
Big organizations such as PMI have realized the need and are now focusing on more agile approaches.

Digital transformation and technology awareness are a second area of specialization

The available trainings either emphasize business and culture or technology. The integration of the product, organization and technology dimensions is currently not available in regular education. I assume this dichotomy reflects the silo structure of many companies.

The most successful digital companies, such as Microsoft, Twitter, Apple, Goggle, and Facebook have such profiles in their highest senior positions. These leaders master product development, collaborators nurturing, financial acumen, and technological savviness.

Successful executives shall master culture, market and technology to launch awesome product lines.

Leadership and collaborator management are a third specialization

Modern and agile approaches are still very young. The offerings are still quite old school and not well-tailored for digital companies. The still used term human resources is quite the indicator of how collaborators hiring and retainment is done wrong in old-fashioned organizations.
Persons can never be considered as resources. They are unique individuals to be nurtured and respected.

The following formal trainings are available through academic institutions:

I strongly recommend evaluating the offerings and exhaustively discussing the content with the program director. The offerings are slowly moving to a more holistic and agile approaches. Too often, the institutes still cling to obsolete practices and are not aware of all facets of digital product development.

technological factors and agile collaborator approaches are sorely missing in many curriculums.